Category Archives: Book Picked Me

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Thoughts by Maggie O’Farrell, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction; Sisters

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Half Price Books, I think

What It’s About: Told in flashbacks and from the perspective of three characters: Esme – the youngest sister, Kitty – the eldest, and the granddaughter Iris. Esme has been locked away since she was 16 and now 60+ years later, while Kitty is suffering from dementia in the nursing home. Then there is Iris, the only living relative who owns a vintage clothes shop and pines for her married step-brother. It gets even more complicated when Iris is contacted about Esme when her facility is being shut down. Iris has never heard of Esme and didn’t realize Kitty was not an only child.

Thoughts: Despite the showing of audiobooks this month, I’m still not at my former levels of audio-focus. That or this one just starts confusing, gets muddled and wilding messy in the middle, and might also suffer from cultural unknowns. (Like, what WAS that red cord?! What that MEAN? Do I really know how it ended? I have made assumptions that work for my interpretation of the story, but this would be a terrific one to discuss. With a Scottish person!)

But boy do I love the feisty old ladies. Both of them had feistiness and secrets and regrets and ambition. No excuses for Kitty, but Esme and Iris could have benefited from asking and expressing and having a true exchange of what was going on. Of course, the plot wouldn’t have thickened if they were able to truly share and connect.

She has no idea that her hands and eyes and the tilt of her head, and the fall of her hair, belong to Esme’s mother.

We are all just vessels thru which identities pass. We are lent features, gestures, habits and then we hand them on. Nothing is our own.

We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned; a fabulous story idea and not quite convincingly executed. Though a fun ride anyway, I think this one is likely better in print. The stories just bounce between narrator and time with no introduction — it was hard to tell when those changes occurred.

I read this because… I think it was an Audible freebie by an author who has a new book out that looks phenomenal, The Marriage Portrait, which follows a successful Hamnet. Possibly a writer that will go on my “must-read-everything” list.

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

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Burning Questions and The Candy House

Thoughts by Margaret Atwood, Doubleday 2022, 496 pages

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: Essays

Type/Source: Hardcover / Gift from a friend

What It’s About: Wonderful essays on the climate, politics, book reviews and author tributes, bits about poems; reminisces on her childhood, her marriage, and husband, lectures she has given, etc and more.

“However, this does not make The Handmaid’s Tale a “feminist dystopia” except insofar as giving a woman a voice and an inner life will always be considered “feminist” by those who think women ought not to have these things.”

Thoughts: She’s Margaret Atwood!

“She came by her perky Mom voice and her “Howdy Stranger“ tropes honestly. She was a refugee, not to America but from within America: a mom and Apple Pie America, and America of the past that was being rapidly transformed by material inventions, …”

Rating: Five slices of pie.

“My own mother was of the non-interference school unless it was a matter of life and death. ___ She later said that she had to leave the kitchen when I was making my first pie crust, the sight was so painful to her.”

-Polonia (2005)

 

Thoughts by Jennifer Egan, Scribner 2022, 334 pages

Challenge: TOB Summer Camp

Genre/Theme: Linked Short Stories, 2nd in the Goon Series

Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

What It’s About: These stories continue the looks into the lives of characters touched on in The Visit From the Goon Squad. I can’t even pick a favorite. Actually, some seem abrupt or bring up people I would have hoped to explore more or really taxed my brain power! That said, I loved it. It felt SO GOOD to just read and relax and get lost in a story.

“The fact that so many thoughts could have gone through my head in 3.36 seconds is testament to the infinitude of an individual consciousness. There is no end to it, no way to measure it. Consciousness is like the cosmos multiplied by the number of people alive in the world (assuming that consciousness dies when we do, and it may not) because each of our minds is a cosmos of its own: unknowable, even to ourselves.”

Thoughts: I must link in my review of Goon Squad – because I don’t remember it nor was I able to capture its charms exactly – only entertained myself in the attempt. Others have noted that it is a wise plan to keep notes of characters at the start of BOTH these books, something I did not do but recognize it might be valuable advice. Me, I only hope to reread both of these, back to back. Put it on my ‘Retire-to-a-Deserted-{Desserted?!)-Island-Reading-List’.

My kind of story-telling. Five slices of pecan pie.

“… tweezing forkfuls of turkey or pecan pie through a rectangular mouth slot.”

ARthur p.26

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Olga Dies Dreaming

Thoughts by Xóchitl González, Flatiron Books 2022, 349 pages

Challenge: Recommended by a friend.

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction, Puerto Rico Independence, American Dream Pursuit

Type/Source: eBook/Libby Library – 14 day loan

Rather than be irritated, she thought, she should focus on the infallible hilarity of the ultra-wealthy to be penny-wise when it came to compensating human sweat, and dollar-foolish when it came to everything else. She shouldn’t be irritated at all, she counseled herself, and instead laugh her way to the bank.

What It’s About: Olga is a high-achieving owner of a wedding planning business to the wealthy of NYC. Her every move is calculated to take advantage of opportunities to make money and gain status. Her brother is a US Representative from and for Brooklyn. Their father is dead from HIV drug-use and their mom is a fugitive revolutionary-mercenary.

New York had a shocking way of spiraling into chaos whenever met with precipitation, as though the entirety of its infrastructure was actually made of sugar and the water triggered dissolution.

Thoughts: I won’t lie, this was hard to get into. The first third had me pushing myself to keep reading and I wouldn’t give myself permission to DNF because a friend recommended it to me. A friend that I greatly admire. Then I began to wonder, ‘What *IS* this? a love story? A whodunnit tale of treachery? (I was worried that the romantic interest was going to be a bad guy — spoiler: he is a good guy.) A family drama child abandonment story? or an incitation to Revolution, on the part of Puerto Rico?

Yes, and I support PR being granted statehood. The status of this island and these citizens is unjust; to be dependent and taxed, without representation.

She was less uncomfortable than she thought she would be, the realization of which made her uncomfortable.

However, all the stories do come together and I admire this as an author’s strong debut, in mostly– for me– what it accomplishes and addresses, a passionate statement in support of Puerto Rico. I learned a lot more about Puerto Rico.

If your rights are less because you’re born in one place, not another, how meaningful are those rights in the first place?

Rating: Four slices of pie.

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Classics Club Spin Oct 2021 #ccspin #MyCCSPINList

Time for another Spin! #28 – Number reveal 10.17, read by 12/12/2021

**** UPDATED on 10/17 8:30 am to share the SPIN NUMBER is 12

Click the image above to go to the announcement post.


Will update later today with the selected spin number which will identify the book I need to read…

My Spin List:

1 Villette
2 Gilgamesh
3 Confederacy of Dunces – JKToole
4 the Counterfeiters
5 Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City
6 A Few Green Leaves – B. Pym
7 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – PK Dick
8 Under the Greenwood Tree – Hardy
9 The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
10 At the Mountains of Madness – Lovecraft
11 Pale Fire – Nabokov
12 Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin  <—- SPIN SELECTION!
13 Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
14  The Good Soldier – Ford M Ford
15 Death Comes for the Archbishop – W.Cather
16 Rabbit, Run – Updike
17 All Passion Spent – Vita Sackville West
18  The Soul of Kindness – Elizabeth Taylor
19 The King Must Die – Mary Renault
20 The Way We Live Now – Trollope

Here’s hoping 18 hits – it’s on Kindle sale so I bought it.  GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Effin’ Birds

Thoughts by Aaron Reynolds, Ten Speed Press 2019, 208 pages

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: Nonfiction / Postcards / Cursing / Birds

Type/Source: Gift from Stef of blog A Stone in the River

Recommended by: I saw a tweet about this collection and RT’d it; either I @’d Stefanie or she happened to see it… then she ACTED upon it!

What It’s About: A book of 100 postcards encapsulating insults and ventings of frustration.

“… something about or by a pie-eyed bird thinking something fuck-worthily inappropriate…”

– (I mailed it before I wrote it down)

Thoughts: I laughed. I immediately wrote Stef a thank you before I realized that she included a card explaining how and why she sent me this amazing super wonderful thoughtful gift.

SHE MET THE AUTHOR! She had the author sign me a note! too cool.

I posted the pics on Litsy

I immediately thought of 1 or 2 friends that might laugh if I sent. And I shared with my husband who assured me that pretty much everyone I already write letters to would probably survive (and laugh) if I sent. So I did. I am.

I refrained from writing my mother-in-law.

Rating: Five slices of pie.

” …I hate people.”

(I don’t, really…)

Let me know if you want one! Some are… quite spicy. I can put craft tape to cover anything if delicate sensibilities might be offended. (Which is what I did for Stacy Buckeye‘s birthday card! LOL)

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Hood Feminism

Thoughts by Mikki Kendall, Viking 2020, 267 pages

Challenge: Self-education and Professional

Genre/Theme: Nonfiction / Feminism

Type/Source: eBook and hard cover, both library

Recommended by: [Cover links to gr; this link goes to my review.]

What It’s About: subtitled: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot

“There’s nothing feminist about having so many resources at your fingertips and choosing to be ignorant. Nothing empowering or enlightening in deciding that intent trumps impact. Especially when the consequences aren’t going to be experienced by you, but will instead be experienced by someone from a marginalized community.”

– Mikki Kendall

Thoughts: I am not well-read on the foundational readings of feminism. That said, I believe in equal rights equal pay equal respect. I know little of the history of the movement. I choose to not be ignorant. (I am weak and working on the impact over intent consideration. And if you have heard me at my most admonishmenting: I am working on me, to be better.)

What I do have is some experience with less-than-mediocre white men getting ahead and I’ve seen exceptionally bright and capable black women be disregarded. Me, myself, I have privilege; I just want a simple life that is quiet and safe and allows me to read my books and watch my movies and plant my plants and walk my dog. Love and hug the family on holidays and then leave me alone. However and sadly, I have sat back confused and even be frightfully agog with ‘what just happened?’ when personally witnessing or listening to what I consider WRONG THINKING. I’m saddened by this. I’ve experienced blatant misogyny and harassment and survive with mostly confusion, if not lost opportunity and advancement. Perhaps, maybe, I do not want opportunity and advancement, that is likely my own issues to deal with. I get it but I also don’t. But yea, I feel like I’m settling. I’m settling with safety and security in my little bubble.

I also know white privileged women who are far away from understanding and respecting the Notes as explained here by Ms. Kendall. I have had women tell me that it disgusts them to drive by poor houses on the highway like it was a personal insult to them. I’ve seen those posts on FB that express horror, anger, and indignation at what the “libtards are doing to take away their freedoms”. And I don’t confront it – the “it” conflicting image or how or what — that the United States is supposed to be for ALL; that systematically, marginalized people are exploited and stepped on. I don’t have the power inside to formulate the words and argument required to withstand whatever the backlash might be. The backlash of outrage “I’m not racist?!” Oh, but yes, you are – you/we are supporting a racist system.” I am not strong, I’ve never been able. I also fear a fight would not be a process that would get to a successful outcome that would align with the ideas and ideals needed to respect Ms. Kendall’s truth. But I should try.

“No one needs a savior to ride in, take over, and decide for them what would be the best approach to solve a problem. No one has time to play emotional caretaker for allies who would be accomplices, in general, if you have come to these spaces looking to take things away for your benefit instead of looking to contribute, than you’re already doing it wrong.”

I want to contribute.

I want to contribute.

This book has me signing up for the League of Women Voters. It’s my start. And I’ll be buying this book. To share.

Rating: Five slices of pie.

” …the time a guy tried to rob my mother at an ATM and pointed a gun at me to make her comply is as American and mundane as apple pie..”

Do better. Be better.

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Thoughts by Ottessa Moshfegh, Penguin Press 2018, 289 pages

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit

Type/Source: Hard cover, Library

What It’s About: A 20-something female devastated by both her grief and the lack of emotional response to the death of her parents tries to sleep her way back to a sense of self. She finds the best and worst of psychiatrists whacky enough to prescribe her any assortment of drug cocktails to allow withdrawal from her life. She has one friend she treats miserably, an ex-boyfriend who she allows to treat her miserably, and a miserable job at an art gallery. She loses that job by taking too many sleep breaks in the broom closet. This job does introduce her to some interesting people, one of which sparks her to the one idea: an art project that just might restore her to the fresh start she seeks.

“Like dropping a pie on the floor as soon as you pull it out of the oven.”

Thoughts: I am glad to have read this. One of those books that you are glad to say ‘yep, I read that’ maybe more than the enjoyment of actually reading of it. The character’s decisions sure made my heart race – like watching someone stand on the edge of a cliff, or on the railing of a high bridge, then doing a pirouette.

Thoughts: Moshfegh is a talented writer. VERY talented.

Rating: Four slices of pie.

“I tried to picture Anthony Michael Hall making an appearance, maybe as the neighbor’s kid coming to pay his condolences with a pie or a casserole.”

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Did That Just Happen?!

Thoughts Beyond “Diversity” – Creating Sustainable and Inclusive Organizations by Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker and Dr. Lauren Wadsworth, Beacon Press 2021, 203 pages

Challenge: Self and Professional

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit

Type/Source: Hard cover, Purchased from an Indie bookstore

What It’s About: This fabulous guide explains everything DEI.

Beyond ‘microagressions’ – use the term IRA for identity-related aggressions.

Thoughts: I am a corporate learning facilitator which means I am the person who does a lot of the talking in our training workshops. I bought this to not only see if we as a company are on the right track but to see how I can nudge and shift and pay attention to what is truly needed and HOW to deliver.

I very much appreciate the walk-throughs provided in this book, the what to say and the what NOT to say and why things are problematic. This book delivers.

“I’m sorry that happened. That is NOT okay.” No need to fix anything in that moment. Just listen.

Rating: Five slices of pie.

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

Toni Morrison

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Euphoria

Thoughts by Lily King, Blackstone Audio 2014, 6 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by the Simon Vance and Xe Sands.

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: Historical Fiction/Jungle anthropology

Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible freebie

What It’s About: Imaginary (loosely based on) life of Margaret Mead and her marriage to an Australian anthropologist, while working with an English anthropologist.

The English guy (Bankson or Bateson? I could never tell and am too lazy to look it up) is ready to chuck it all when he meets Nell and Fen. Nell is serious and amazing, dedicated and impressive. Fen is an asshole. (WHY? she ever married him is beyond me.) They have escaped a study assignment where the people were mean and scary and Nell had had to flee. Fen begrudgingly followed her out — because Nell provides the funding, so yea. The English-Anthropologist convinces Nell and Fen to come to his study area of a remote hot tropical island and introduces them to a tribe no one is currently studying so they set up camp.

English-Anthropologist (E-A) is fascinated by how Nell approaches her work and whaddya-know! he falls in love with Nell. Nell isn’t possessive and believes in free-love so she loves E-A back, or at least while Fen is out and about. Eventually Fen does something stupid and they all, Nell and Fen and helped along by E-A, have to escape.

Thoughts: This is mostly about the love triangle and a lot of it is in E-A’s internal monologue. On a story level, it kinda sucked. But I was sucked in by the passions and by the narration. Simon Vance and Xe Sands are excellent; the words they spoke were entrancing to me.

It ends tragically, really REALLY bad. I think I have a another favorite author.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2022. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.